Imagine That!

There was a time when I would only go out of my way to listen to speakers who were older and more experienced than I. Recently, however, I have changed my preferences and have begun to seek out speakers, rabbis and teachers who are young and relatively inexperienced. I find their ideas fresh and often… Read More

The Exodus Mind Pesach

There is one line in the Haggadah that captures the entire essence of what the Seder and Pesach are all about: “B’chol dor vador chayav adam lir’ot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatzah mimitzrayim” — in every generation we are obligated to see ourselves as though we personally came out of Egypt. It’s a very powerful… Read More

Unlikely Holiness: Pancakes, Trash and the Priest’s Big Toe Parshat Tzav

This week’s portion continues the outline of the korbanot, the “sacrifices” begun last week in Parshat Vayikra. Its title, Tzav, is an imperative meaning “command,” and while the previous portion was addressed to the person bringing the offering, this week’s parshah is addressed to the priest assisting with the offering. The priest is God’s agent… Read More

The Victorious Victim Parshat Vayikra

I always experience a sense of excitement when I begin a new book. I am convinced that most avid readers feel the same way. This Shabbat gives us an opportunity to experience that excitement as we begin a new book, the Book of Leviticus, with Parshat Vayikra. Leviticus has historically had mixed reviews. On the… Read More

A Different Moses Emerges for All Time Parshat Ki Tisa

101014_riskin_sholmo_rabbi

What is the significance of the dazzling radiance of Moses’ face and why did it not attain this shining glow until he received the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur? And, perhaps the most difficult question of all, why did Moses break the first tablets? Yes, he was bitterly disappointed, perhaps even angry, at the Israelites’… Read More

The Stigma of Fame Parshat Tetzaveh

People are motivated by many things. The search for pleasure is certainly one of the great motivators of human beings. So are the search for power and the search for riches. There are also those among us who seek to be liked by others, to the extent that the search for adulation is their primary… Read More

Bringing Light Into Lives Parshat Terumah

This week we read from Parshat Terumah. This parshah describes the construction of the tabernacle, which is the traveling place of worship for the Israelites during their travels in the desert. The word terumah means donation or gift. The Israelites were asked by Moshe to bring gifts for the mishkan, the tabernacle, which was the… Read More

Rules and Regulations Parshat Mishpatim

After the Revelation at Sinai, after the giving of the Ten Commandments, after the thunder and lightning and the mountain covered in a cloud of smoke — what could possibly come next? What could follow that spectacular event? Rules and regulations: ordinary, mundane, everyday rules about how to live in a society. The contrast between… Read More

Becoming the Best Person I Can Be Parshat Yitro

In this week’s parshah, God hands down the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people. With these laws, the group of tribes finally becomes united as a nation, establishing a covenant between themselves and God. Essentially, this is a contract: If the Jewish people follow the commandments, God will protect them and provide for them. But… Read More